Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Corrupt Legacy of Galton And It's Propagation as Science Through Selectively Framing Arguments

Rereading the chapter in Francis Galton's memoir which deals with his development of eugenics it is pretty astonishing how bad his scientific methodology was and how illogical the analysis of his data as revealing anything about the general human population was.   I mentioned him studying the entirely artificial and highly selected sample of those who attended the all male, largely aristocratic Cambridge University in the early to mid 19th century.   Another of his samples were the self-selected, highly placed members of The Royal Society, all male, I believe.  His own description of another of his data gathering techniques has so many red flags as to its unsuitability that it is stunning how someone with only a modest ability to think logically couldn't have noticed the results couldn't possibly result in any reliability such as physics and chemistry achieved by studying much simpler phenomena.

The dearth of information about the transmission of Qualities among all the members of a family during two, three, or more generations, induced me in 1884-85 to offer a sum of 500 pounds in prizes to those who most successfully filled up an elaborate list of questions concerning their own families. The questions were contained in a thin quarto volume of several pages, printed and procurable at Macmillan's, cost price, which referred to the Grandparents, Parents, Brothers, Sisters, and Children, with spaces for more distant relatives. A promise was given, and scrupulously kept, that they should be used for statistical purposes only. My offer had a goodly response, and the names of the prizewinners were duly published in the newspapers. I was much indebted, when devising the programme and other prefatory details, both to Professor Allman (1812-1898), the biologist, and to my old friend at King's College, Mr. (afterwards Sir) John Simon. The material afforded by the answers proved of considerable importance, and formed the basis of much of my future work. I had it extracted in a statistical form, in considerable detail, Which was of much value to Professor Karl Pearson at the outset of his inquiries, before he had been able to collect better and much more numerous data of his own. It will be convenient to defer speaking of the results of all this until the last chapter.

All of these studies, made in the early stages of the development of eugenics, used by other scientists, including Charles Darwin as evidence to support the application of natural selection to the study of the human population are, and there's no other honest way to put this, trash.   They are junk, the results couldn't possibly even allow you to come to any scientific conclusions about the people of Britain, England or even London.   And, the mention of Karl Pearson collecting "better and much more numerous data" does nothing to mitigate the problems arising from the wretched quality of these methods of information gathering.   That in none of the literature from Darwin, Haeckel, and others in the first generation of Darwinists does anything but accept the results of Galton's studies as reliable science, that none of these giants of biological science noticed the problems of extending those results to the entire human population and, in fact, use the unreliable results arising from entirely  artificial conditions in highly atypical human groups and societies as evidence of alleged natural selection in the entire, world wide biome for the entire history of life, is about as problematic as anything that has ever been done in the history of academic study.

There is nothing about even the general population of Britain that is enough like that of people living in other countries,  under other laws governing inheritance of property, social status, access to the necessities of life and the protection of those by law and by force of arms in the form of police, military and other forms of united enforcement of those laws and customs, to make even valid general conclusion drawn from data on them applicable to other people.  The British class system, enforced inequality and disparity in life circumstances and opportunities, adds another and decisive series of artificial conditions that make any general statement covering the entire British population impossible.   That, alone would have made the task of coming up with coherently generalized statements about people as if they were wild animals impossible.  In nature there are no enforced property rights of inheritance, there are no laws protecting the property of animals, not even food and access to water.   The offspring of lions who are merely smaller than other lions don't automatically get to inherit a fortune and get put down for a prestigious public school if not an elite university at birth, they are driven off to fend for themselves.  And that's only one example of the complete difference made by human laws, which are hardly the same the world-round and for all times.  You can't even come up with generalized statements on most relevant aspects of human life that would be decisive in how many children who leaves due to the differences in property laws and customs, laws that artificially assign ownership and rights on an entirely unnatural and quite different laws.   Darwin, himself, showed that he was willing to grant major exceptions to natural selection to the lesser sons* of the aristocracy, exceptions he was entirely unwilling to grant, generally and, typically British, most harshly, to the poor.   But also those who he held were ethnically depraved (the Irish) or racially inferior (a large number of named non-white ethnic groups).

Having recently been very critical of Karl Marx I will note that his second analysis of Darwin's natural selection was accurate, it does, in fact, attempt to find the British class system as a general law of nature.  His first analysis was that Darwinism was useful to his materialistic view of the universe.  That is, I think, the primary reason that natural selection was exempted from much of the rigorous criticism that it should have been subjected to for the past century and a half.

The British class system and similar systems of legal, political and economic inequality are so much a part of the thinking of Darwin and his audience of generally elite men who grew up as favored members of those systems that I doubt they were capable of seeing problems with it anymore than they were with the glaring problems of Galton's methodology.  I am absolutely certain that the acceptance and promtion of eugenics was entirely due to the interests of the rich in promoting science that supported their wealth and power**  I suspect that his membership within that same elite may well have led to them overlooking the inadequacy of what he did and the absurdity of the claim that his conclusions were applicable to the entire human population. The incident of St. John Mivert objecting to George Darwin's absurd and unfounded eugenic proposals to invade the privacy of married couples and strip them of their rights of choice, led to the circling of the wagons in the Darwin camp and to launch attacks to damage him professionally.   It wasn't science open to all challenges, certainly.

I have mentioned before that I was hardly the first person to notice this problem with the kind of thinking Darwin sold, purported to be the greatest idea in science, by Darwinists.   The observation of that was even earlier than The Origin of Species, made by a non-scientist,  William Cobbett in his critique of Darwin's inspiration, Malthus.  What he said about the lapses in observation based on habits of thought among men of science is certainly true of Galton and the scientists who took his junk science as reliable.

The audacious and merciless MALTHUS (a parson of the church establishment) recommended, some years ago, the passing of a law to put an end to the giving of parish relief, though he recommended no law to put an end to the enormous taxes paid by poor people. In his book he said, that the poor should be left to the law of Nature, which, in case of their having nothing to buy food with, doomed them to starve. They would ask nothing better than to be left to the law of Nature; that law which knows nothing about buying food or any thing else; that law which bids the hungry and the naked take food and raiment wherever they find it best and nearest at hand; that law which awards all possessions to the strongest; that law the operations of which would clear out the London meat-markets and the drapers' and jewellers' shops in about half an hour: to this law the parson wished the parliament to leave the poorest of the working people; but, if the parliament had done it, it would have been quickly seen, that this law was far from 'dooming them to be starved.'

The same habits of thought, the same unadmitted biases that privileged people practice are still with us today.  And the privileges being protected can sometimes seem quite modest.  Nothing about claiming the methods and rigor of science exempts the people doing that from taking advantage of commonly held interests.  Eventually some of those will be held up to a more critical light, often not on the basis of scientific rigor.  In the case of eugenics it took the crimes of the Nazis being revealed and even with that most exigent of lessons of history,  it wasn't even twenty-five years that scientists - both those on the right and the left - were asserting exactly the same kinds things, citing exactly the same junk science that led to those crimes in order to promote scientific racism and proposing coercive and absolute violations of privacy, by law, using the prestige of natural selection as their reason.

- Early in the 1960s the American geneticist Hermann Muller, a Nobel laureate, proposed collecting sperm from men with outstanding qualities such as high intelligence and altruism, and then seeking out women of intelligence and good health as recipients. Although he died before it opened, the Hermann J. Muller Reposi tory for Germinal Choice was established in 1971 and initially accepted sperm exclusively from Nobel Prize-winning scientists, only a few of whom publicly acknowledged their donations. The “sperm bank” went Clout of existence last year, leaving no public indication of how many artificial fertilizations actually took place.

And outrageously intrusively

-  Amid the exciting progress being made in molecular genetics, conflicting voices were heard among the scientists involved. Nobel laureate Linus Pauling, the scientist responsible for one of the earliest identifications of the molecular basis of a genetic disease (sickle cell anemia), in 1968 urged compulsory screening for defective genes before marriage. He suggested some form of visible display—such as forehead tattoos—to prevent the mating of two carriers of a defective gene.

Remember, that Pauling, considered with some justification to be a hero of liberalism, came up with this proposal for a modern scarlet letter on the basis of genetics and statistical probabilities.  While those bases may be less unreliable than those asserted in the typical neo-eugenics of evolutionary psychology, the proposal would be an absolute violation of rights, an analysis that Pauling was certainly capable of comprehending.  Apparently he was blinded by science to the nature of what he was proposing.

Even earlier, in the book The Next Million Years written seven years after the liberation of the death camps and the ending of the Nazi system of eugenic murder, Charles Galton Darwin, the son of the early proponent of eugenic violation of right, George Darwin, the grandson of Charles Darwin, Cambridge graduate and professor in physics and member of the Eugenics Society,*** bemoaned the impossibility of instituting strict eugenics laws in the current political atmosphere, predicting the catastrophic dysgenesis of allowing the poor to breed that his grandfather, as well, predicted if too many of the poor lived till adulthood.   He, after seeing how the revelations of applied genetics in Germany put a dent in the effort, took a pessimistic view of the future which he was certain depended on the extent to which scientists were allowed to manage the human population.  Many of his more outrageous statements have been quoted but for this post, this passage from his book is extremely revealing of both the unconsidered dependence of his argument on artificial exigencies of academic thinking and its illogical assertions, even those that undermine the case his grandfather made for natural selection using exactly the analogy with human animal husbandry and animals in the wild that he rejects here.  I am amazed that Charles Galton Darwin doesn't even seem to realize what he's doing as he says it.

Man - A Wild Animal

In the past two chapters I have examined different aspects of the nature of man.  In the first he was regarded just like any other species of wild animal, while in the second some of his social qualities were considered, which might not be regarded as those of a wild animal.  Civilization might, loosely speaking, be counted as a sort of domestication, in that it imposes on man conditions not at all typical of wild life.  It might then at least be argued that it is a false analogy to compare man to a wild animal, but that he should rather be compared to one which has been domesticated.  I shall maintain that this analogy would be false, and that man is and will always continue to be essentially a wild and not a tame animal. 

Before coming to this main theme it is important to notice that, if it were admissible to regard man as a domesticated animal, the whole time-scale of history would have to be radically altered.  Thus though the geological evidence shows that it takes a million years to make a new wild species, we know that the various domesticated animals have been created in a much shorter time.  For example, the ancestors of the grey-hound and the bulldog often thousand hears ago would probably have been indistinguishable, of then man's characteristics could be similarly remolded in so short a time, the whole future of history  might be radically different.

The entire argument boils down to it being unadmissable because it doesn't suit Charles Galton Darwin's purposes and those of like-minded people.  That the enormous edifice of human culture is to be ignored, even as its influence can't but radically undermine any possible assertion of analogy between human being in their known history and animals living in the wild.  Especially using the dissimilarity between modern dogs and their more nearly wild ancestors to incoherently attempt to make that case.   I don't think there is any more resonant example of the kind of dishonest double-talk acceptable as reliable science than this.  To suit his eugenics and the structure of practices set up by his grandfather and his godfather (Francis Galton) the obvious facts that any analysis of human beings living in the artificial conditions of human societies, under human laws, is to be disregarded as unimportant.   That is an assertion and the practice that I've found just about every time I have read anything asserting the relevance of natural selection to human beings and the obvious reason that it will always, eventually, be a disaster.  His confidence that he can use such clearly dishonest, even incoherent and self-undermining arguments to discern the future is unfounded, arrogant and absurd.

*  Man accumulates property and bequeaths it to his children, so that the children of the rich have an advantage over the poor in the race for success, independently of bodily or mental superiority. On the other hand, the children of parents who are short-lived, and are therefore on an average deficient in health and vigour, come into their property sooner than other children, and will be likely to marry earlier, and leave a larger number of offspring to inherit their inferior constitutions. But the inheritance of property by itself is very far from an evil; for without the accumulation of capital the arts could not progress; and it is chiefly through their power that the civilised races have extended, and are now everywhere extending their range, so as to take the place of the lower races. Nor does the moderate accumulation of wealth interfere with the process of selection. When a poor man becomes moderately rich, his children enter trades or professions in which there is struggle enough, so that the able in body and mind succeed best. The presence of a body of well-instructed men, who have not to labour for their daily bread, is important to a degree which cannot be over-estimated; as all high intellectual work is carried on by them, and on such work, material progress of all kinds mainly depends, not to mention other and higher advantages. No doubt wealth when very great tends to convert men into useless drones, but their number is never large ; and some degree of elimination here occurs, for we daily see rich men, who happen to be fools or profligate, squandering away their wealth. The Descent of Man.

I have not come across any critique of this passage made by any Darwinist, though it is a plain and obvious example of class privilege flummery  which, in the book, comes right after Darwin asserted the most harsh view of the poor imaginable, including complaints that the Victorian work houses kept a dangerously high number of poor children alive to reach adulthood and that their vaccination would  bring down the human species.

**  This article from The Galton Institute is interesting reading.

An intriguing feature of the eugenics movement was the support given to it by wealthy patrons.1 This raises questions of how much influence money can buy, and the extent to which the opinions of ordinary people can be modified by the wealthy. In Britain, the Eugenics Education Society was “baled out” by donations from wealthy supporters in the early 1920s.  The Society and its successor, the Eugenics Society, received its largest donations from Henry Twitchin, his bequest particularly financing the Society’s expanded operations in the 1930s.

Similar observation about the support of American eugenics could be made with other names of other millionaires substituted.

It's typical of this kind of thing that the question of how much influence money can buy and the extent to which the opinions of scientists modified by it would seem to be entirely relevant but never mentioned.

***  The article is a revelation in how little the thinking of those who buy eugenics has been informed by modern history and even more recent science.  I would encourage you to read it.  I don't see a date on the article but the citations go to at least 2001, so I would guess the thinking it represents is still around.   If nothing else, it is proof that the Darwins certainly saw eugenics as being a continuation of Charles Darwin's work,  a convincing if not conclusive disproof of the post-war attempt to white wash his part in producing it.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Why I've Spent So Much Time On Studying Eugenics

You wonder why the the phenomenon and history of eugenics is so interesting to me.  Considering the amount of time I've spent on it, it's a fair question.   One which has several answers of different gravity.

Most importantly, eugenics was and is one of the more blatant and blatantly hypocritical instances of those with more power violating the most basic rights of people with less power, everything from passively denying them access to goods and services including educational opportunities, to coerced and even forced sterilizations and all the way up to murdering them.

The Nazi eugenics program is not separable from the mass murders of the T4 program and the gassing of those deemed to be unfit in death camps.   They were the creation of the same groups of scientists, engineers and politicians working out of the same basic assumptions, all of them informed by same primitive scientific and concepts of natural selection and genetic fitness.   The evil results in human life that are the real history and existence of eugenics makes it an important thing to understand.  Unless the real nature of the concepts that scientists based it on and their motives are understood we are in serious danger of that history being repeated.  The basic ideas of eugenics are still current in world cultures, taught as science, accepted as facts of nature.   The eagerness with which even the most scientifically illiterate news readers and columnists cling to neo-eugenics, for example, evolutionary psychology, betrays a total lack of understanding of the issues involved mixed with a dangerous faith in even the most clearly illogical ideas that they are allowed to be passed off as science. More about that, later.

That other scientific and economic ideas were part of that is also true.  The pedigree of the most potent of those through the hardly natural, entirely intentional and artificial British class system, in forms such as Malthusian economics bring related points of interest up.

Included in those is the ease and willingness of people with the most obvious interests in class privilege, such as the Darwin inner circle and those who adopted their ideas, to mistake artificial social conditions as universal aspects of nature.  The reductionism involved in asserting that the privileges they enjoy, a result of entirely artificial conditions brought about by aristocrats exerting political and military control over people on the basis of force in the ancient past, are in any way similar to the lives of plants and animals in the wild has an enormous amount to tell us about how even science is not a vaccination against the most obvious and corruptly motivated wishful thinking.

The speed with which eugenics was derived from natural selection is instructive as to how ideas favorable to an elite can be thought up and the corners which any asserted science will be allowed to cut if it favors those with power. That those with such interests were the ones who decided questions of what was allowed as science then and, to a large extent, now, is certainly important to understand.

On the Origin of Species was published in 1859, within the next five years Francis Galton had conceived of using it as a scientific validation of the superior life status of the class of men he and Charles Darwin belonged to.  Of course, Galton never put it in those terms, but I am not going to pretend that his hypothesis and his methods could ever have been expected to produce any other result than the one he got.  I will also not pretend that he was likely to publicize any results he got that undermined the superiority of the class his study favored.  An invalidation of the superiority of the wealthy and powerful would have died, immediately and never would have developed into any alleged science.  His good news for the rich, those who had university degrees and entree into high status professions found the most fertile of ground, the most favorable of environments for it to flourish and propagate in the very class with the power to call it "science" and to fund it.

In order to come up with what would be acceptable in the rather loose definition of evidence that would prove acceptable for his study, Galton used the hardly random group of largely incestuously selected, aristocratic men who were graduates of Cambridge University in what was clearly not a valid representation of the entire human population.  Everything about his study invalidated it as a means of finding alleged universal laws covering the human population, everything about it was obviously rigged to favor an artificial and self-selecting group of men who, among other things, were only too willing to associate themselves with any of the very varied accomplishments and varied virtues of their class mates, perhaps especially those Cambridge men who had never done anything noteworthy.   And in the way of self-confirming bias that is rampant in the history of such science, those results were decisively determinative in how future thought in the matter was to be found acceptable as science.  That is something I strongly suspect was as true for natural selection as it became viewed as the sufficient explanation of the enormously varied, enormously long and vastly numbered organisms, known in only a tiny fraction of relevant examples available to scientists for study in the question of evolution.  I didn't start this study as a skeptic of natural selection, the longer it goes on the more skeptical I am that it is anything more than a conventional and required POV.

Galton published his first articles which he, himself, would later classify as eugenics in 1865, represented as already being scientifically significant.  In fact, Charles Darwin, eight years later, cited them as such in The Descent of Man. Galton published the first major book on the topic in 1869, Hereditary Genius, also cited by Darwin as settled science, three years later.  Eugenics took off with an amazing speed, considering the hardly settled question of the status of natural selection.   In fact, I strongly suspect that the good news for rich men which was eugenics, the validation of the disdain which the rich had for the poor, especially but hardly exclusively in Britain,  and the validation of their being crushed into the misery that the New Poor Law had instituted, was an important factor in the adoption of natural selection as a "law of nature".   It was not universally accepted among scientists until well into the next century even as its offspring, eugenics, was given enormous legal power to oppress people on the basis of race and class.  Even in those countries reputed to be class-free democracies, especially the United States, even in states which very likely had far less support for the theory of evolution than they did for eugenics.

Ironically and surprisingly, the intense British campaign for eugenics, peopled by the elites of everything from the far right to the pseudo-left, was unsuccessful in passing laws due to a combination of Catholic and Labour Party opposition to it.  A number of American states, even those which may well have had majorities opposed to Darwinism, nevertheless made eugenics law and programs which the Nazis would study and use in their justification of theirs. The status of eugenics was strongly related to the strength of the Catholic opposition and its influence.  The first American eugenics law, that of the hardly progressive state of Indiana, was adopted in 1907, twenty-four years after Galton invented the word "eugenics".


Beyond question, the most important reasons to study the history of eugenics is as the scientific motivation it was for mass murder and other violations of human rights on a large scale.   Considering what the eugenicists overcame to do that, in conventional morality and religion, only something with the power provided by the status of science could have done it that quickly.  The importance and relevance of that is that, despite popular belief,  the promotion of eugenics by scientists, academics, journalists and others, didn't disappear with the defeat of the Nazis and the revelation of the extent of their crimes on the basis of applied natural selection.

If you looked closely at the photocopy of the letter posted yesterday in which Charles Davenport announed to Francis Galton the establishment of the Eugenics Records Office, you may have been surprised to see that it was on a letterhead from the American Breeders Association, the group which supported the establishment of organized promotion of eugenics laws in the United States.  If that doesn't make you feel queasy it is probably due to not fully thinking out what happens in a breeding operation.   One of the things which made the artificial selection of livestock breeding so useful to Charles Darwin in promoting the theory of natural selection is that as well as breeders selecting those animals they choose to breed on the basis of "traits" they favor, animals not kept for breeding stock are slaughtered for food or other uses or, in some cases, merely so they won't have to feed, house and otherwise care for them.   Animals not selected for breeding aren't kept as pets.   Growing up among farmers,  I didn't realize that large numbers of even college educated people don't realize that until I wrote my first blog posts on these topics.  Death was always the major force in the concept of natural selection, the "selection" of nature was a selection of which organisms didn't leave offspring mostly because they died.   I am struck at how easily those whose daily business consisted of the raising and killing of animals as commercial material looked at  human beings in a similar way.

The inhibiting force of traditional morality, in its politically effective form as Christianity in most of the west, was all that ever stood between the assumptions included in eugenics and murder.   But, those inhibitions removed by the enlightening power of science and the desire to be modern and up to date, it's rather amazing how freely it was seriously considered as social policy in the Unites States and elsewhere, among, no doubt, affluent and well off members of select committees.

Here are two passages  from The War Against the Weak by Edwin Black.

- In 1911, the leading pioneer eugenicists, supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the American Breeders Association and the Carnegie Institution, met to propound a battle plan to create a master race of white, blond, blue-eyed Americans devoid of undesirables.

Point eight of the Preliminary Report of the Committee of the Eugenic Section of the American Breeders Association to Study and to Report on the Best Practical Means for Cutting Off the Defective Germ-Plasm in the Human Population specified euthanasia as a possibility to be considered. Of course, euthanasia was merely a euphemism—actually a misnomer. Eugenicists did not see euthanasia as a “merciful killing” of those in pain, but rather a “painless killing” of people deemed unworthy of life. The method most whispered about, and publicly denied, but never out of mind, was a “lethal chamber.”

The lethal chamber first emerged in Britain during the Victorian era as a humane means of killing stray dogs and cats. Dr. Benjamin Ward Richardson patented a “Lethal Chamber for the Painless Extinction of Lower Animal Life” in the 1880s. Richardson’s original blueprints showed a large wood- and glass-paneled chamber big enough for a Saint Bernard or several smaller dogs, serviced by a tall slender tank for carbonic acid gas, and a heating apparatus. In 1884 the Battersea Dogs Home in London became one of the first institutions to install the device, and used it continuously with “perfect success” according to a sales proposal at the time. By the turn of the century other charitable animal institutions in England and other European countries were also using the chamber.

This solution for unwanted pets was almost immediately contemplated as a solution for unwanted humans—criminals, the feebleminded and other misfits. The concept of “the lethal chamber” was in common vernacular by the turn of the century. When mentioned, it needed no explanation; everyone understood what it meant.

In 1895, the British novelist Robert Chambers penned his vision of a horrifying world twenty-five years into the future. He wrote of a New York where the elevated trains were dismantled and “the first Government Lethal Chamber was opened on Washington Square.” No explanation of “Government Lethal Chamber” was offered—or necessary. Indeed, the idea of gassing the unwanted became a topic of contemporary chitchat. In 1901, the British author Arnold White, writing in Efficiency and Empire, chastised “flippant people of lazy mind [who] talk lightly of the ‘lethal chamber’…”

- Leaders of the American eugenic establishment also debated lethal chambers and other means of euthanasia. But in America, while the debate began as an argument about death with dignity for the terminally ill or those in excruciating pain, it soon became a palatable eugenic solution. In 1900, the physician W. Duncan McKim published Heredity and Human Progress, asserting, “Heredity is the fundamental cause of human wretchedness… The surest, the simplest, the kindest, and most humane means for preventing reproduction among those whom we deem unworthy of this high privilege [reproduction], is a gentle, painless death.” He added, “In carbonic acid gas, we have an agent which would instantaneously fulfill the need.”
By 1903, a committee of the National Conference on Charities and Correction conceded that it was as yet undecided whether “science may conquer sentiment” and ultimately elect to systematically kill the unfit. In 1904, the superintendent of New Jersey’s Vineland Training School, E. R. Johnstone, raised the issue during his presidential address to the Association of Medical Officers of American Institutions for Idiotic and Feebleminded Persons. “Many plans for the elimination [of the feebleminded] have been proposed,” he said, referred to numerous recently published suggestions of a “painless death.” That same year, the notion of executing habitual criminals and the incurably insane was offered to the National Prison Association.
Some U.S. lawmakers considered similar ideas. Two years later in 1906, the Ohio legislature considered a bill empowering physicians to chloroform permanently diseased and mentally incapacitated persons. In reporting this, Rentoul told his British colleagues that it was Ohio’s attempt to “murder certain persons suffering from incurable disease.” Iowa considered a similar measure.
By 1910, the idea of sending the unfit into lethal chambers was regularly bandied about in American sociological and eugenic circles, causing a debate no less strident than the one in England. In 1911, E. B. Sherlock’s book, The Feebleminded: a guide to study and practice, acknowledged that “glib suggestions of the erection of lethal chambers are common enough.…” Like others, he rejected execution in favor of eugenic termination of bloodlines. “Apart from the difficulty that the provision of lethal chambers is impracticable in the existing state law…,” he continued, “the removal of them [the feebleminded] would do practically nothing toward solving the chief problem with the mentally defective set…, the persistence of the obnoxious stock.”

One of the figures in history who as recently as 2005 I could read with pleasure but whose every witticism revolts me now is the Fabian socialist, hero of so-called liberals and brilliant dramatist, George Bernard Shaw.   His remark made to the elite members of the Eugenics Education Society in 1910, the same year as Davenport's letter to Galton announcing the creation of the Eugenics Records Office, are not unique among the stars of eugenics and the smart set in Britain and elsewhere.  Imagine one of his more developed characters, perhaps Henry Higgins saying it.

A part of eugenic politics would finally land us in an extensive use of the lethal chamber.  A great many people would have to be put out of existence, simply because it wastes other people's time to look after them.

I have to wonder if Galton was present,  he well may have been he was the head of the organization until Leonard Darwin, the son of Charles Darwin,  became head of it.  Both of them must have heard about it.  In a book written in the next decade, Leonard Darwin discussed the possible use of "lethal chambers" for eugenics.  I'd love to have an attendance list of those who did hear it and if any of the objected to it.  For me, his remark about the necessity of mass murder in lethal chambers, proposed as eugenically sound, acted as a key to look more fundamentally at his thinking and his writing and once you have seen it in light of a mind that could say what he did reveals that, despite its reputation as some kind of progressive or liberal thing, is merely the typical British thinking fully informed by the assumptions of the class system, not far different from that which informed Galton and Darwin and Malthus.

And, remember, he was one of the lights of the Fabian society, a group whose goals included harrying the most destitute out of existence and enforcing the absolute destitution of the poor before they received any and very meager aid, what the brightest of the British Brights of his time produced as a political left.   We still get those kinds of people on the left even outside of Britain.   Just as an example, Peter Singer is famous for his utilitarian proposals for killing people and he's hardly been rejected as an "ethicist" over it in any place among the English speaking peoples.  It is remarkable to me how among the materialists, even those allegedly of the left, the contemplation of murder as a means of virtue recurs as a continuing feature of their discourse.

None of this stuff is the dead past, it's all relevant to today, it will be as long as natural selection retains its status as both science and ideology.   I'm convinced that its status as science is driven primarily by ideology.  I think with such fantastic assertions about it, even its extension outside of biology, by such popular voices as Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, etc. its role as a atheist-fundamentalist god substitute* is even stronger today than it was at the turn of the last century.   And, as the history shows, that assertion of natural selection as THE primary fact of biology will always lead, immediately to ideas for applying it to the human population.  It did in the early 1860s, it still does today,

*  Read the eminent geneticist H. Allen Orr's review of Dennett's book, Darwin's Dangerous Idea.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Curiously Dissappeared [mysteriously reappeared] Primary Evidence And Why It Really Does Matter In Real Life

Update:  I don't know if it has anything to do with me posting this, but within an hour after I did, the link I mentioned started working.  Spooky?  Or something else?  Synchronicity?   But I will leave up the introductory passage.

This morning I went looking for the previously available online images and transcripts of letters to and from Charles Davenport which I consulted in preparing my posts on the topic of eugenics and, oddly, none of them seem to be available anymore. Not from the Dolan DNA Learning Center at Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory, not from various British sources where such things could be found as recently as two years ago.   Not on my computer, not on the computer of one of my siblings which I also tried.

If you google "Charles Davenport Francis Galton letter" you can see some barely legible images of them (as of this morning)  but I can't get links to the legible ones I used to work with. Since beginning this research I've noticed I wasn't the only one who was finding those links, a number of mainstream authors were exposing the record that previously had only been of interest to fundamentalists opposed to the teaching of evolution.  If that has anything to do with why I can't present you with a link to the image of the letters which you could read for yourself,  I can't say.  I can say that the letters exist, they have been read, they do constitute absolute proof of the direct link from the first generation of eugenicists to the American, Canadian and other eugenics programs, including racists such as Davenport who were involved with Nazi eugenics, they aren't going away and their existence and their content isn't deniable except by lying or lying about them.  They shouldn't be disappeared online.   Neither are such published sources as the autobiography of Francis Galton, the biography of him by his student, the eminent geneticist and cold blooded eugenicist Karl Pearson, etc.  While those were ignored or unread, they lay out the same lines of connection that the letters prove.

Whether or not it is liked by those who propped up the post-war misinformation campaign that Michael Shermer was spouting in the interview I linked to yesterday morning,  the links from the Holocaust to Darwin's inner circle are clear and obvious and fully documented by the men, almost all of them scientists, who comprised those multiple and very short chains, going back from Nazis such as Ploetz through those such as Leonard Darwin and Charles Davenport, to the generation of Ernst Haeckel and Francis Galton who provides the link to Charles Darwin as his inspiration, publishing the letter Charles Darwin wrote to him expressing his enthusiasm for Galton's first book developing eugenics, Hereditary Genius, a book Charles Darwin cited, as reliable science many times in his second major work on the topic of evolution, The Descent of Man.

The post-war iron curtain erected to separate the Holocaust from the fictional Charles Darwin which was also created at that time, can only be sustained by lies disproved by his words and the words of people who knew him as intimately as his own children and his closest scientific colleagues.  Those words are out, the Darwin Industry should try to live with that and not attempt to continue with the lie.


In my second post I put up yesterday, I noted that the American biologist Charles Davenport was a direct link between American eugenics and the Nazi eugenics program, which is inseparable from the mass murders of the Holocaust.
That link is undeniable because Davenport left the damning evidence in abundance, as did a large number of other American, British, etc. scientists who were involved in or enthusiastic about eugenics.   I have noted before that in correspondence between Davenport and Leonard Darwin, the son of Charles Darwin and the head of the British Eugenics Society discuss their attempts to promote eugenics in Germany at a time it was widely opposed - in the 1920s - Leonard Darwin doubting they'd succeed because of the "conservatism" of the German scientists.

If that were not enough to prove the case, Davenport provides a direct link directly into Darwin's inner circle through his correspondence with Francis Galton.

My dear Galton:  Your postcard of Oct. 14, just received I thank you for for taking the trouble to reply - You must think me a nuisance to add thus even a letter to your correspondence. But I must tell you of recent events here.

As the enclosed printed matter will show in some detail there has been started here a Record Office in Eugenics. - So you see the seed sown by you is still sprouting in distant countries.   And there is great interest in Eugenics in America,  I can assure you.   We have a plot of ground of 80 acres, near New York City, a house with a fire proof addition for our records.  We have a superintendent, a stenographer and two helpers besides to train field workers.  These are all associated with the Station for Experimental Evolution, which supplies Experimental Evidence of the methods of heredity. We have a satisfactory income for a beginning and have established very cordial relations with institutions.

I want to tell you how much I have enjoyed reading your autobiography.  You have quite put yourself into it;  and that makes it much more valuable than any "Life" by another hand.  It would please you to realize how universal is the recognition in this Country, of your position as the founder of the science of Eugenics.   And, I think, as the years go by, humanity will more and more appreciate its debt to you.   In this country we run "Charity" mad.  Now, a revulsion of feeling is coming about, and people are turning to your teaching.  With best wishes for continued strength and health & expression of my professional esteem,  Yours faithfully,  Chas B. Davenport  (Eugenics Records Office, #2094)

Just as Francis Crick in 1970 was finding eugenic inspiration from Karl Pearson's biography of Galton, the founder of eugenic, Charles Davenport was finding inspiration from Galton's autobiography as he was beginning the campaign of eugenics in America, sixty years earlier.   And Charles Davenport was, actually, a participant in Nazi eugenics, during the Nazi regime.   He was on the editorial board of two German magazines founded during those years to promote the Nazi's eugenics practices, Zeitschrift für Rassenkunde und ihre Nachbargebiete and the Zeitschrift für menschliche Vererbungs- und Konstitutionslehre.  The name of the second one is especially chilling in its English translation,  The Journal for Human Heredity and Constitutional Doctrine.  He had, before the Nazis took power, promoted eugenics in Germany as elsewhere.   I found that information in the book  Nazi Connection: Eugenics, American Racism, and German National Socialism by Stefan Kühl.   the passage dealing with that is, I think, too willing to still allow the distinction between science and politics that Davenport used to mask his support for the Nazis.

With the topic of eugenics, which was from the beginning a call by scientists to apply their theories to the human population using the force of law, that distinction is a convenient but utterly transparent lie.  As early as 1873 George Darwin*, with the support of his father, wrote  "On Benefical Restriction to Liberty of Marriage," calling for the legal dissolution of marriages on the basis of mental illness, involuntarily, obviously, as his modest proposal included making it impossible for those who regained their mental health to resume those marriages.  Not to mention other pretty horrible ideas.  He noted other eugenicists, such as Greg asserted the "necessity of coercion" even earlier than that.  Again, this was already eugenics, ten years before Galton gave his new science its name.   Eugenics, from the beginning was scientists (even those such as George Darwin, an astronomer not arguably professionally competent in that area) insisting on becoming part of the political and legal processes in order to coerce people to have children only as they approved, insisting their right to determine who should and who should not have children.   As natural selection, the foundation and motivation for eugenics, is founded on the political-economic theories of Malthus, it is ridiculous to pretend that it and its derivations are separable from politics.  That alone makes its casual acceptance as a basis for activity in human life ripe for disaster.

*  George Darwin had read Galtons' Hereditary Genius before his father and in his congratulatory letter to Galton, Charles Darwin noted his son's enthusiasm for it.   As I noted in one of my posts, Francis Darwin, in his early biography- letter collection his and George's father, Charles Darwin, noted that George Darwin's articles were "eugenics".

Update:  While I am entirely opposed to teaching creationism in public schools as science, it's a pathetically poor excuse to pretend this evidence doesn't exist if creationists were the ones who first noticed what it means.   If we're supposed to favor teaching evolution BECAUSE IT'S TRUE, BECAUSE IT'S WHAT REALLY HAPPENED,  then the same standard makes exposing the documentary and historical record of these scientists just as much of a virtue for the very same reason.   Lying about that record is as much a denial of reality as insisting that the diversity of life came about on the first six days of a little over six thousand years.   See my posts mentioning Paul Feyerabend several days ago about low standards of scholarship acceptably practiced among those who wrap themselves in the mantle of "the enlightenment".

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Update to This Morning's Post

Someone is quibbling about the textbook used by the class taught by the famous John Scopes of the "monkey trial" mentioned in the post below, A Civic 
Biology.   Passing by the temptation to go in depth into implications of the title "Civic," it is impossible to not see the author and publisher thought they were providing high school students with information that should inform their activities as citizens, especially in regard to their role as voters in a republic.   The author made that purpose explicit in the introduction.

With this end in view the following pages have been written. This book shows boys and girls living in an urban community how they may best live within their own environment and how they may coöperate with the civic authorities for the betterment of their environment. A logical course is built up around the topics which appeal to the average normal boy or girl, topics given in a logical sequence so as to work out the solution of problems bearing on the ultimate problem of the entire course, that of preparation for citizenship in the largest sense.

Because of that, the passages promoting racism, class prejudice, etc. are especially worth considering in regard to the topic of this morning's post.   For many of the students who would have used the textbook in one of the few science courses they are likely to have taken, what it said was certainly what science meant to them.   The same is true for everyone, scientists included, everyone's "science" is limited to what is presented to them as representing science.  Science only exists in the minds of people, it doesn't have any independent existence.

Eugenics.—When people marry there are certain things that the individual as well as the race should demand. The most important of these is freedom from germ diseases which might be handed down to the offspring. Tuberculosis, syphilis, that dread disease which cripples and kills hundreds of thousands of innocent children, epilepsy, and feeble-mindedness are handicaps which it is not only unfair but criminal to hand down to posterity. The science of being well born is called eugenics.

The Jukes.[*]—Studies have been made on a number of different families in this country, in which mental and moral defects were present in one or both of the original parents. The "Jukes" family is a notorious example. The first mother is known as "Margaret, the mother of criminals." In seventy-five years the progeny of the original generation has cost the state of New York over a million and a quarter of dollars, besides giving over to the care of prisons and asylums considerably over a hundred feeble-minded, alcoholic, immoral, or criminal persons. Another case recently studied is the "Kallikak" family.[35] This family has been traced back to the War of the Revolution, when a young soldier named Martin Kallikak seduced a feeble-minded girl. She had a feeble-minded son from whom there have been to the present time 480 descendants. Of these 33 were sexually immoral, 24 confirmed drunkards, 3 epileptics, and 143 feeble-minded. The man who started this terrible line of immorality and feeble-mindedness later married a normal Quaker girl. From this couple a line of 496 descendants have come, with no cases of feeble-mindedness. The evidence and the moral speak for themselves!

Parasitism and its Cost to Society.—Hundreds of families such as those described above exist to-day, spreading disease, immorality, and crime to all parts of this country. The cost to society of such families is very severe. Just as certain animals or plants become parasitic on other plants or animals, these families have become parasitic on society. They not only do harm to others by corrupting, stealing, or spreading disease, but they are actually protected and cared for by the state out of public money. Largely for them the poorhouse and the asylum exist. They take from society, but they give nothing in return. They are true parasites.

The Remedy.—If such people were lower animals, we would probably kill them off to prevent them from spreading. Humanity will not allow this, but we do have the remedy of separating the sexes in asylums or other places and in various ways preventing intermarriage and the possibilities of perpetuating such a low and degenerate race. Remedies of this sort have been tried successfully in Europe and are now meeting with success in this country.

Blood Tells.—Eugenics show us, on the other hand, in a study of the families in which are brilliant men and women, the fact that the descendants have received the good inheritance from their ancestors. The following, taken from Davenport's Heredity in Relation to Eugenics, illustrates how one family has been famous in American History.

Davenport is, of course, Charles Davenport, biologist, professor of Zoology, the first director of the Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory, a major figure in American and world eugenics, scientific racism, a promoter of eugenics, including in Germany during the period when it was not government policy and after it was made law by the Nazis.  He had extensive ties with German organizations and the government in the Nazi period, well into its eugenics program, even after the start of the war when the genocide was underway.

If you wanted to force me to continue to produce evidence that eugenics, even in its most homicidal forms was part of mainstream science you couldn't have found a better way to do it.  I will write more on this tomorrow because it is the perfect example of why it is absolutely necessary to admit and to always keep in mind what the limits of science are and the consequences of mistaking ideological materialism for an aspect of scientific method.

*  The stories of the "Jukes" and the "Kallikak" families are examples of inventing evidence and passing it off successfully as science.  More recent research has pretty well debunked it, though it is still cited as if it were actual fact.  The creation of fictional science by scientists, which becomes an actual AND EFFECTIVE part of science as it really exists in the world is notably not prevented by either the methods nor the practices of scientists.  The claim that scientists don't do that kind of thing is both false and dangerous to the acceptance of valid science.

"The Nazis gave it a bad name and I think it is time something was done to make it respectable again." Blatant and Dangerous Lies

In researching one of my short posts the other day, I came across a very good example of the ongoing dishonesty that has become habitual in the popular culture, a result of the concerted PR campaign of the "skeptics" who are identical with the "new atheists".  This short interview with Michael Shermer on the occasion of his latest book is full to the brim with that kind of stuff, and with such a superficial series of soft-ball questions, the "World Science Festival" does little more than set him up to say what is entirely predictable. 

The book Shermer was peddling was most ironically named "The Moral Arc". That irony can be seen in the lack of honesty he exercised as he was pushing it. One of the most serious of the lies Shermer told was in this exchange, on a topic I've become very interested in over the past decade.  

WSF: What about instances where scientists have behaved badly—like the Tuskegee experiment?

Shermer: I wouldn’t even put things like that down as science screwing up.

In the case of, say, eugenics as employed by the Nazis, that wasn’t science, that was pseudoscience. First of all, the Nazi regime was not a scientific regime; it was really a throwback to Romanticism. It was a rejection of Enlightenment secular values and science and reason. It said that blood and soil and race are the dominant things, and our race is the dominant one, and they used and abused science to that end. So you can’t lay the blame on science. I think science is neutral in that regard and can be misused, but the application of scientific process to solving social problems gives you better governments.

The status of eugenics in the 1920s-1940s as science,  in fact it's status as science for the entire period of its development and even till today, couldn't be clearer. The attempt to deny that mainstream scientists invented eugenics, developed it, instituted its racist, even genocidal application and its semi-covert promotion after the Second World War is a massive lie.  

But in order to understand that you have to look at science as it really exists in the real world instead of in self-serving and special definitions in service to an, ironically, romantic view of science of the kind promoted by commercial "skepticism".    

That eugenics was the invention of a scientist whose status as a scientist working in science when he did it can't possibly be clearer.   Francis Galton, the inventor of eugenics was one of the major scientific polymaths of his generation in Britain, his acceptance as a scientist and his work as science couldn't be clearer. Many of his discoveries are widely used in science, today, he hasn't been demoted to the status of a non-scientist.  I would guess, though I haven't really done the calculation, that more of his science is in current use than that of another 19th century polymath I mentioned the other day, Hermann von Helmholtz.   

That he based his eugenics on accepted science, natural selection, is obvious both by his testimony, the testimony of Charles Darwin,  other scientists of his day and up till today is also incontestable.   For anyone who isn't familiar with my blog, I have gone into that question exhaustively, twice and have continued looking into it and the case proving that is massive, based on primary documentation and directly proven, is absolute in the way that historical documentation can achieve.  It is not merely presumable on the basis of circumstantial evidence.   And I do assert that the case is proven because the definitive information required to prove that case is provided in the words of Charles Darwin, Francis Galton, those scientific contemporaries and colleagues of both men and the people who knew Charles Darwin better than anyone else in the next generation, his children.   You can read those in the post indexed at that last link. 

The link of that British eugenics to German eugenics is, as well, proven and unambiguous in the person of Darwin and Galton's closest German colleague and collaborator, Ernst Haeckel.   Through Haeckel and the generation of students of science he and his German associates taught, you get directly to those such as Alfred Ploetz who were directly involved with Nazi eugenics.   His ideas were heavily influenced by his membership in the ironically named "Freie wissenschaftliche Vereinigung"  "Free Scientific Society" whose activities centered on the study of the scientific writings of Charles Darwin and Ernst Haeckel.   And Ploetz was only one figure in German science relevant to the identification of German eugenics as, at that time, accepted as mainstream science.  Everyone I've mentioned, so far, was undeniably held to be a scientist by other scientists in that period and today.  Charles Darwin, Francis Galton, Ernst Haeckel, Alfred Ploetz, and I could go on to list an enormous number of mainstream scientists of that period in the development of eugenics, university science programs and departments which produced research explicitly identified as eugenics and even science textbooks, produced by teachers and professors with science degrees, teaching even explicitly racist eugenics as reliable science. 

I would, if I had more time, go into the extremely important issue of American eugenics' direct contribution to Nazi eugenics, which is also incontrovertible except through lies and the omission of primary source evidence but the direct German line is also indesputable and  both primarily a matter of scientists asserting that eugenics was reliable and established science.  For an example, the high school biology textbook which John Scopes was using at the time of his trial, A Civic Biology, was written by George William Hunter, who, among other things, was enough of a scientist to have taught Zoology at The University of Chicago and a writer of science textbooks which were among the more widely used ones to teach science in the United States.   That is only one of many, many documents identifying eugenics as mainstream science which are available, complete, online. 

The direct line continuing from Alfred Ploetz into Mein Kampf runs through the science textbook Grundriss der Menschlichen Erblichkeitslehre und Rassenhygiene,  Priniciples of Human Heredity and Racial Hygiene  by Eugene Fischer, Fritz Lenz and Erwin Baur.   Hitler had been supplied with their textbook while he was in Landesberg prison, during the time he was writing Mein Kampf.   He read lots of books there and credited his reading during that time to providing his "free education at the public expense".   It is only reasonable to acknowledge that his science education was largely dependent on that book by three mainstream scientists. 

- Fischer was a doctor, an anthropologist and a eugenicist, holding academic positions in science at the University of Berlin and the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute. From what I read, online, after the fall of Nazism he tried to deny the role of his science in the genocidal program of the Nazis.   Essentially what the statement I'm criticizing does for all of the scientists involved with eugenics. 

- Lenz was a student of Alfred Ploetz, a geneticist working as well at the Kaiser Wilhelm Instutute and AFTER THE WAR, despite his role in the Nazi's genocidal regime, as Professor of Genetics at the University of Goettingen.

- Baur was a biologist and a geneticist,  listed several places as doing groundbreaking work in plant virology while he, as well, worked at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute.   He died in 1933 so, alone of those three he can not be said to have had direct knowledge of the applied use of his science by the Nazis.

Their book directly cites science, from Darwin and Galton right up to the time they were writing it, it was, by any honest definition taken as science in the 1920s through the 1930s, its authors still called scientists, today.  It was a book of science, written by scientists which directly informed the Nazis eugenic program, which included mass murder, beginning with the "hygenic" murder of the disabled, continuing in the mass shootings of the Einsatzgruppen, the gas vans and the gas chambers of the death camps.  All of those inspired by the science of eugenics, all of them with the participation of scientists and doctors trained in science. 


One of the 186 signers of the Humanist fatwa against the evil of newspaper horoscope columns was the famous geneticist and Nobel laureate, Francis Crick*.  In the post-war period and up till today, there is no more emblematic figure constituting a scientist than Crick, half of the famous Watson and Crick, credited with discovering the structure of DNA.   Less well known is that up till his death, Francis Crick believed that eugenics was science, he championed both eugenics and its application on the basis of race, he mounted a campaign of support among elite scientists for the scientific racist, Arthur Jensen.  

For anyone who has read a lot of the primary source material written by scientists on the topic of eugenics from before the Nazis made it all too temporarily disreputable, this letter by Crick to his fellow scientist, Bernard D. Davis, can seem like deja vu. 

22 April 1970
Dear Bernie
I have just read your paper "Threat and Promise in Genetic Engineering" and I feel I must write and tell you how good I think it is. I have thought a little about these problems, but I have never sorted things out as clearly as you have done. I particularly like your point (end of page 1, start of page 2) whether we should deliberately intervene. I also thought your remarks on polygenes were very much to the point and certainly lead one in the direction of eugenics. By a coincidence I have just started to read Karl Pearson's life of Francis Galton but I have not yet got as far as eugenic ideas. I am also very much in sympathy with your remarks (pages 5 and 6) on psychogenetics. But, in fact, I have found myself in agreement with almost everything you have said. The above points I have simply singled out for special mention.

I have a few small comments to make. Your comments at the top of page 14 reveal what I have always known, that you are a much more enthusiastic father than I am! Although I agree to some extent about what you say in a father's pride in his own offspring, I would point out to you that adoption is quite a common practice and the effects of this on the father can be studied experimentally without too much difficulty. Your remarks just before this about the problem of securing agreement on the traits to be selected, I don't think is really a difficult one. The target to aim for, as you imply, is high achievement, although many different types. What is to be avoided is one narrow criterion for selection.

The only positive ideas I have had on these problems myself are the following: Firstly, I think people who have twins, and especially identical twins, should be strongly encouraged, possibly by a financial inducement, to let one of them be adopted. Proper records of both children should be kept. The information which could be accumulated in this way would be invaluable. The cost would not be very great and I think people could easily be persuaded that what they were doing was for the greater good of society. In fact, I can imagine an advertising campaign to this end along the lines of 'donate a twin'. My other suggestion is in an attempt to solve the problem of irresponsible people and especially those who are poorly endowed genetically having large numbers of unnecessary children. Because of their irresponsibility, it seems to me that for them, sterilization is the only answer and I would do this by bribery. It would probably pay society to offer such individuals something like l,000 [British pounds] down and a pension of 5 [British pounds} a week over the age of 60. As you probably know, the bribe in India is a transistor radio and apparently there are plenty of takers.

Finally, let me say that although I agree with you that these are basically long term problems, I also agree that they will be upon us sooner than we realize and as soon as intelligent discussion is started on them the better.
With all good wishes
Yours sincerely
F. H. C. Crick

There is all the difference in the world between people choosing to limit the number of children they have and this kind of targeted - and racist - form of eugenics lite.  It doesn't sound all that dangerous until you consider what scientists trained and acculturated into this view of people as a herd to manage will do when their "voluntary" program fails to produce the result they identify as the goal.   If you read the original writings of the American and Canadian eugenicists before AND AFTER the Second World War, they can couch even the most obvious programs of genocide in the most rational sounding patter, even presenting their intentions of wiping out entire ethnic groups through sterilization as a benefit for those they are cutting off from the future and the surviving lines and society they claimed to be working on behalf of.  The need to put an English face on scientific genocide is something that really has to be done because pretending it's a "German problem" is dangerous.  As I pointed out above, there is nothing more obvious than that the Nazis explicitly cited the existing American eugenics programs, which preceded theirs by decades, as a precedent and justification of their first stage program and developed rapidly into the genocide. 

My point that eugenics, from its inception, through the years before the Nazis applied eugenics in their massive genocide programs and during that moral atrocity and in the post-war period was indisputably the work of  mainstream scientists of the highest repute and fame, even those held up as idols and heroes. If you want more and definitive evidence of what the sainted Crick had in mind, he pointed it out in this 1971 letter to Dr. John T. Edsall at the Department of Health Education and Welfare. 

... I don't think the small amount of money which is needed to start eugenics research will be in way compete with this.  The main difficulty is that people have to start thinking out eugenics in a different way.  The Nazis gave it a bad name and I think it is time something was done to make it respectable again.

As far as I can see, we are in agreement on all this, except perhaps for a slight difference of emphasis.

If that doesn't disturb you I hope it is out of ignorance of one of the major disasters in the history of the human species because the alternative can't but reveal your moral character as someone who would risk that history repeating itself.  Francis Crick and the scientists in the post-war period, certainly those old enough to be familiar with the crimes of the Nazis who envision repeating it don't get the benefit of the doubt on that matter. 

*  Crick is only one of the signatories of the Humanist "skeptics" document who was enthusiastic for eugenics in the post-war period.  As Crick is the one I've looked most at, I'll withhold other names of others for a later date.   Though another, Konrad Lorenz, was certainly aware of Nazi eugenics as it was happening because he was not only a participant, he was a scientific theorist of it.

These [papers relevant to the topic] were "Die angeborenen Formen moglicher Erfahrungen (1943) and "Durch Domestikation Verursachte Storungen" (1940).   In them Lorenz justifies the Nazi efforts to prevent interbreeding of persons of different so-called races (it must be noted that the German concept of race bore little relation to what most anthropologists, and certainly biologists, understand by the term).  Basically, Lorenz's argument was that since displays of waterfowl are species-specific, hybridiation destroys the integrity of the releasor mechanism andn leads to the destruction of the species.   By analogy, humans are believed to possess relasors for ethical and esthetic values which are lost through "hybridization."  

Yet Lorenz was held up in 1976 as an eminent figure in science, one qualified to participate with all those other scientists in the first major ideological campaign of Shermer's "skeptics" movement.   

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Pavlov's Blogs: If They Want To Prove My Point About Atheists Not Reading Things Before Blathering I'm Powerless to Stop Them

But I Can Get Them To Do It

Why would I care about what people who can't navigate the complexity of an argument we might have gotten the first week of our Frosh Rhetoric class in our first semester think they think about something?   

As to what you've said, if people want to misrepresent what I said in a way that validates the point that blog atheists don't even bother to read what they comment on, demonstrating one of the points in the post they didn't read, I'm powerless to stop them. 

Update:  Open Post:   And sometimes they prove they can't tell the difference between one and two.   Thanks for the heads up, I did actually chuckle when I read it.

Roger Sessions: Symphony No.4 (1958)

Columbus Symphony Orchestra
Christian Badea, director

Session's 4th is one of his best.

More Fun With Feyerabend

Thinking more about Paul Feyerabend's fascinating short essay, The Strange Case of Astrology, from his book, Science in a Free Society, and especially considering what he said early in the developing sTARBABY scandal, before he could have known about it, it is remarkably prescient of not only that event which proved Feyerabends' contentions, more about it should be said.  The reason for that is that as early as 1978, the ongoing practices of "skepticism" and neo-atheism were set out in clear detail in it.

Even as he was writing the essay, the instigator of Objections to Astrology:
A Statement by 186 Leading Scientists, Paul Kurtz, and one of its signatories, George Abell, joined by the statistician Marvin Zelen were doing just what could be expected of people who held the view of science, scholarship and standards of integrity that the essay exposed.

For my own purposes, it is a good example of something I recently said about neo-atheists, even the scientists among them but, just as much so, the non-scientists, science journalist, bloggers, etc.  That they shared all of the sins of medieval scholastic scholars and none of their virtues.

Here's a passage from Feyerabend's provocative and rather brilliant essay:

Now what surprises the reader [of the Humanist anti-astrology statement] whose image of science has been formed by the customary eulogies which emphasize rationality, objectivity, impartiality and so on is the religious tone of the document, the illiteracy of the "arguments" and the authoritarian manner in which the arguments are being presented.  The learned gentlemen have strong convictions, they use their authority to spread these convictions (why 186 signatures if one has arguments?), they know a few phrases which sound like arguments, but they certainly do not know what they are talking about.(1) 

Take the first sentence of the "Statement."  It reads:  "Scientists in a variety of fields have become concerned with the increased acceptance of astrology in many parts of the world."

In 1484 the Roman Catholic Church published the Malleus Maleficarum, the oustanding textbook on witchcraft.  The Malleus is a very interesting book.  It has four parts:  phenomena, aetiology, legal aspects, theological aspects o witchcraft.   The description of phenomena is sufficiently detailed to enable us to identify the mental disturbances that accompanied some cases.  The aetiology is pluralistic, there is not just the official explanation, there are other explanations as well, purely materialistic explanations included.  Of course, in the end only one of the offered explanations is accepted, but the alternatives are discussed and so one can judge the arguments that lead to their elimination.   This feature makes the Malleus superior to almost every physics, biology, chemistry textbook of today.   Even the theology is pluralistic, heretical views are not passed over in silence, nor are they ridiculed;  they are described, examined, and removed by argument.   The authors know the subject, they know their opponents, they give a correct account of the positions of their opponents, they argue against these positions and they use the best knowledge available at the time of their arguments.

The book has an introduction, a bull by Pope Innocent VIII, issued in 1484.   The bull reads:  "It has indeed come to our ears, not without afflicting us with bitter sorrow, that in ...."  - and now comes a long list of countries and counties - "many persons of both sexes unmindful of their own salvation have strayed from the Catholic Faith and have abandoned themselves to devils ..." and so on.  The words are almost the same as the words in the beginning of the "Statement,"  and so are the sentiments expressed.  Both the Pope and the "186 leading scientists"  deplore the increasing popularity of what they think are disreputable views.  But what a difference in literacy and scholarship!

Comparing the Malleus with accounts of contemporary knowledge the reader can easily verify that the Pope and his learned authors knew what they were talking about.  This cannot be said of our scientists.  they neither know the subject they attack, astrology, nor those parts of their own science that undermine the attack.

It is a poor account of the superiority of materialistic "science" - or, rather as I'd call it, scientism - that they practice an inferior, though otherwise identical form of argument from authority with a late medieval Pope, placing ideas and practices they don't like on a modern Index Prohibitorum.   And that their scholarship is generally of a uniformly worse variety than that practiced by the authors of a witch-hunters manual.  And even as the atheists assert their superiority to even modern religious scholarship, which is conducted at such a superior level to that practiced by the pseudo-skeptics that its dismissal can only be out of the total ignorance or inability to make that comparison

That is the real practice of the pseudo-skeptics.  And, it has come to my attention, again, that, not infrequently, the pseudo-skeptics do them better by misrepresenting research and simply lying about the existence of even published, reviewed, rigorously conducted scientific research when it doesn't serve their ideological purposes.   And, as it pretty obvious from the people involved and their developing activities, as well as their polemics, that the "skeptics" were only a cover for the promoters of ideological atheism.   Their practices merely the extension of those which date back to the 19th century with the sleazy, dishonest Joseph McCabe and many others.

About twelve years after his critique of the statement of the 186 authorities,  Feyerabend also said in Three Dialogues on Knowledge:

I have no special love of astrology and much that is written in this area bores me to tears.  But astrology is an excellent example of the way scientists deal with phenomena outside of their area of competence.  They dont' study them, they simply curse them, insinuating that their curses are based on strong and straightforward arguments

If he had lived about fifteen or more years, he would have seen even more evidence of that in the early books of neo-atheism.   The frequently named "four horsemen" of neo-atheism aren't the heralds of the end of religion, they are the heralds of the new dark age we are in, one made all the darker for falsely taking the name "science" for its trade mark and label, even as the medieval variety took the name of Jesus in vain as they violated everything he taught.   They will likely do more damage to the reputation of science than they will religion.   It is noteworthy that almost forty years after the efforts of the 186 that the public understanding of science is not notably healthier and that its reputation is not what it was even as they issued their fatwa.

Update:  I decided that I should include Feyerabend's first footnote as it supported his assertion about the ignorance of the signatories.

1. This is quite literally true.  When a representative of the BBC wanted to interview some of the Nobel Prize Winners they declined with the remark that they had never studied astrology and had no idea of its details.  Which did not prevent them from cursing it in public.  In the case Velikowski the situation was exactly the same.  Many of the scientists who tried to prevent the publication of Velikowski's first book or who wrote against it once it had been published never read a page of it but relied on gossip or newspaper accounts.  This is a matter of record. Cf. de Grazia.  The Velikowski Affair,  New York 1966, as well as the essays in Velikowski Reconsidered, New York 1976.  As usual the greatest assurance goes hand in hand with the greatest ignorance. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Roger Sessions: Symphony No.3 (1957)

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Igor Buketoff, director

More Hate Mail: I've Given Scandal

If anything I said wasn't true, point it out.   This place has the name it does for a reason, I say the forbidden, frequently and flagrantly.  

Hate Mail: The Point I Was Making Isn't The One The "Skeptics" Are Hoping For I'm Not Pro Astrology I'm Pro Honesty

My post last night mentioning CSICOP's sTARBABY scandal wasn't about astrology, it was about skeptics lying about their expertise and their low level of integrity and total lack of honesty.   It was also about incompetence, once proven, passed off as fact by scientists who knew it wasn't true,  in the interest of their promotion of materialist ideology.

For an ideological cult which disclaims such things as argument from authority, idol worship and blind credulity, they are notably reliant on all three to maintain a following in a large group of people whose "skepticism" consists of all three of those.   It has to because most of the self proclaimed "skeptics" are entirely lacking in the knowledge to even understand the issues involved in scientific research.

As the three major participants in the sTARBABY scandal, Paul Kurtz, George Abell and Marvin Zelen prove, even some people whose professional and academic fields require that knowledge failed to understand the issues involved.  George Abell was a rather prominent astronomer at UCLA and Marvin Zelen was a statistician who taught at Harvard, yet they were the ones whose incompetence led to, first the incompetently framed challenge made against the claims of the neo-astrologers Michel and Françoise Gauquelin, and then the ever worsening incompetence in handling it and then the wider cover up by them, Paul Kurtz,  the head of CSICOP and numerous other atheist-"skeptical" organizations, the central figure in American pseudo-skepticism.  And by all of the members of CSICOP who were aware of the scandal, competent to understand it and who, yet, did nothing and remained with an organization they knew were publishing fraudulent claims about science and the conduct of the Gauquelins.  

That group of CSICOP "Fellows" includes Carl Sagan, who as an astrophysicist and astronomer specializing in the solar system certainly understood the issues and Ray Hyman, whose grasp of statistics certainly was enough to have understood that aspect of the problem his colleagues made for themselves, though he may not have understood the physics of it.   I would add Martin Gardiner to that group of CSICOP superstars whose professional and media PR should have meant he understood the botch that Kurtz, Abell and Zelen made of the thing and the depth of dishonesty in the cover up.  If he's going to be held up as a mathematical genius, it's only fair to hold him responsible in this scandal.

And here, today, we find that such luminaries of the "skeptical" movement as James Randi and Michael Shermer are teaching young "skeptics" to misrepresent themselves as "experts" in "Communicating Skepticism to the Public".   Joined by such organizers as Susan Gerbic, whose intention is to turn popular online authorities as Wikipedia into tools of "skepticism".  And, since they are all conjoined, you can safely substitute any of the the words "materialism" or "scientism" or "atheism" for "skepticism" and you'll never be far off.

I have little in common with Dennis Rawlins, the ultra-skeptic, old line materialist and obnoxious atheist except a respect for the standards of science, a requirement to be honest and the need to correct mistakes in public statements about science.   We also share a skepticism in astrology, neo or old fashioned.   And if you doubt my characterization of him, look at his thoughts on Atheism and Religion  at his website, complete with many false statements and accusations.  Rawlins, in common with many of his ideology, doesn't care much for history when it doesn't say what they want it to, which is especially odd for someone with his CV.

I am skeptical of astrology or any other form of determinism, I'm not an absolutist on the issue, as Rawlins is. His pretty old fashioned materialism precludes one of the purported requirements of science, that all questions remain permanently open, that any claim of even long standing science can be subjected to new information and even overturned*.  Not being a dogmatic or ideological materialist, I prefer to take the claim of scientists that all questions are open to account for new information.  There are interesting critiques that can be made, even while maintaining my skepticism.   You don't get to break the rules of science based on whether or not you like what's being talked about, not while claiming that those rules are inviolable and required of everyone else.

The Strange Case of Astrology, the philosopher of science  Paul Feyerabend's  critique of Paul Kurtz's well known petition against astrology, the origins of both CSICOP and the challenge made against Gauquelin,  was interesting in pointing out how scientists both wanted to have extremely subtle effects of the sun and planets on organisms and each other recognized while denying any possible effects that they didn't like.  He also pointed out that few, if any, of the famous people who signed onto Kurtz's call for forbidding the topic of astrology in public life had studied it. Their objections to it were based, firmly in not knowing anything about its claims.  It's well worth reading in full as he makes some unusual and entirely rational and important points.**

The conclusion I drew from reading all of these things isn't that astrology is established or valid, it is that scientism and self-announced "skepticism" are just as liable to be wishful thinking and to lead to error and open dishonesty as any other area of human folly.   As the sTARBABY scandal proves, even a high degree scientific competence (Abell, Zelen, Sagan, Hyman) isn't a guarantee of avoiding folly and dishonesty when it's a question of protecting your ideological preferences.    Those whose scientific knowledge is very low, often consisting of what is more accurately termed urban myth and folk lore, are even more likely to be at the mercy of their cherished beliefs, in the case of scientism, one that I think is probably more difficult to question than Biblical Fundamentalism frequently is. You see, they have the oracle of "science" to guarantee it.

I read through Patrick Curry's analysis of the sTARBABY scandal  last night. It is very hard going because the years long mess they made of it added layer after layer of complication.  I would have to go through it for many hours to really understand all of the issues.   His conclusions are the easiest part of it to understand.

I don't think I need to stress how badly the Committee has handled the investigation of the Mars effect; the facts above speak for themselves.  Their work could now best function as a model and a warning of how not to conduct such investigations.   Given the ample internal (Rawlins) and external (Gauquelin) warnings that went suppressed or ignored, it is even difficult to accept protestations of "good faith" and "naivete" (Abell, 1981c).   Rawlins and Gauquelin are in fact, the only two major figures to emerge with scientific credibility intact.  It seems to me that this situation must call into question any further (unrefereed, at least)  CSICOP involvement in research on the Mars effect, and possible other "paranormal" areas.

I earlier mentioned that there are occasions in the history of science when a "sociological" explanation seems called for.  This seems to be one.  It would have to take into account such considerations as:  the nature of claims being investigated; undue involvement of scientists with media and publicity, or perhaps conversely, unique (especially  in America?) pressures of public-relations on science; considerations of where power resides in such an organization; and how it is exercised (financially?  publishing rights?);  and lastly, how information circulates, or fails to circulate.  (of SI [Skeptical Inquiry, the official publication of CSICOP, now CSI] policy, we are now aware; readers of SI alone are not so lucky. [Skeptical Inquiry was the major organ of the botch and the cover up.]  Also, there are a number of "big name" figureheads on the masthead;  are they aware of CSICOP behavior, which they presumably support?)

Of course, it could be argued - and has been (e.g. by Abell, 1981c) - that the entire testing of Gauquelin's work was a purely "personal experiment," and nothing to do with CSICOP.  This would involve believing that these experiments "just happened" to be run by the Chairman and Fellows of the CSICOP,  and be published in its official organ.  It would also overlook the fact that Rawlins was paid (starting Oct. 20, 1977) with CSICOP checks for his calculations; and contradict Abell's earlier (1978b) description of "the subcommittee that agreed to look into the Mars  effect on behalf of the Committee."  Finally, such backpedaling is unflattering to CSICOP; if true, it implies that an organization whose much-publicized raison d'etre is ".... Scientific Investigation..."  The scientific quality of its work, if we refuse disownment, is something that thankfully needs no further comment.

But, as mentioned, none of the major figures or the minor accomplices in the scandal ever suffered any serious loss of public credulity of professional consequences, some of the worst continued, in the intervening decades and today to be presented in the media as entirely reliable and even some of those, such as Paul Kurtz,  who proved their total incompetence, as experts.   James Randi, totally incompetent to understand science and a proven liar, deceiver and fraud, is held up as even a figure of science and promoted, by scientists as an ally and practically as a colleague. Prominent scientists associate with him and add luster to his PR events such as his Amazing Meetings.   Science journalism, when it comes to the pseudo-skeptics and the materialists practice the same standards as the journalists in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."   Apparently that's a standard of truth that can get you far in the world of "science," these days.

*  He shares that closed minded attitude with a lot of scientists, even some who will both share his dogmatic view of things while mouthing the claims that all scientific holdings are contingent and open to testing with new information.  It's a very old and illogical holding, one that isn't compatible with the very foundations of science in empirical observation.   A particularly bad case of it was from the 19th century scientific polymath, Hermann von Helmholtz.

"I cannot believe it.  Neither the testimony of all of the Fellows of the Royal Society, nor even the evidence of my own senses, would lead me to believe in the transmission of thoughts from one person to another independently of the recognized channels of sensation.  It is clearly impossible."

If he distrusted the evidence of his own senses on that question,  that would mean that his senses were unreliable, something that is frequently asserted by pseudo-skeptics but only when what is observed isn't to their liking.  That only impeaches the reliability of observation, one of the absolute requirements of science.  If he rejected the unanimous judgement of the Fellows of The Royal Society,  that would impeach the very substance of science which consists of the judgement of the majority of scientists working and publishing science at any given date.   Without those two things science as it's asserted to be, wouldn't exist.   But I've never found the materialists to be especially good at reflecting on things like that, they take so much as a given without understanding what it is they are taking as given.

As I've pointed out many times, materialism, at its most rigorous assertion, would invalidate not only all of science but the possibilities of objective observations or analysis and even the possibility of people discerning anything that had the transcendent property of being true.

**  It's also worth reading this paper which includes a long analysis of what Feyerabend said and why he may of said it.

It is unsurprising that Feyerabend was familiar with the Humanist
statement. He was well informed and widely read, with a keen sense for the wider cultural and intellectual scene. It is equally unsurprising that he disliked it, partly for its reliance on a crudely triumphalist account of the historical development of science, and partly because it evinced a range of intellectual attitudes to which he was starkly opposed.  Feyerabend offered three specific objections first, the "religious tone of the document; second, the weakness--or, in his preferred term, "illiteracy"--of the arguments; and, third, the authoritarian tone and style of the statement.  Rather than summarise each objection in turn, which Feyerabend does clearly enough anyway, Iwill focus only on those aspects germane to the theme of epistemic integrity. The core of Feyerabend's objections is that the authors and signatories of the  Humanist  statement criticise astrology by an appeal to their authority rather than by offering a carefully informed procedurally impeccable critical analysis and rebuttal of astrology.  With characteristically imaginative flair, this objection is presented byunfavourably comparing the statement with the Catholic Church's witch hunters manual, the  Malleus Maleficarum , also known as the Hexenhammer, or "The hammer of the witches"...